Life Wellbeing Why blood banks hate the long weekend

Why blood banks hate the long weekend

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Who doesn’t love a long weekend in winter? Blood banks.

That’s the time when regular donor numbers drop because people aren’t feeling well or they’re heading out of town.

“Even if you’ve got just a small sniffle you can’t donate and the reason being is that the patients receiving the blood are quite sick and we have to be incredibly careful,” Jemma Falkenmire of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service told AAP.

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About 25,000 donations are needed every week across the country, but in winter around 500 donors a day cancel appointments because they have cold and flu symptoms, she said.

Photo: Getty
Flu season is a killer for the blood banks. Photo: Getty

To combat this, the Australian Red Cross is hoping to boost the number of new and regular donors with the launch of SMS alerts, which will notify donors when their blood has been dispatched to a hospital.

“In the trial phase [of SMS alerts] we found that it really encouraged people who feel like they’re too busy to come in and make another appointment to donate.
It created some sense of urgency that their blood was actually on its way to being used,” Ms Falkenmire said.

An anxiety reduction tool kit has also been created to help first-timers overcome any fear of needles.

“Sometimes your initial bravado is overtaken by a creeping doubt as you move slowly towards the chair,” the Blood Service’s Director of Research and Development Dr David Irving said in a statement on Tuesday.

“So we’ve worked with University of Queensland to develop intervention materials that will help our donors to overcome fears or doubts and give blood successfully.”

Snapshot of Aussie blood donors

Three per cent of the population gives blood each year

Most prolific donors are men over 60

New donors tend to be under 30

The average donor gives around twice a year

More donors are white collar workers in serious relationships


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